USA Needs More STEM Talent: How Indian Students Are Filling the Gap


Imagine a world-changing idea that would change the tech industry but there aren't enough skilled and qualified people to bring it to life. This is a very real concern for the USA in the expertise in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. While American universities produce a significant number of STEM graduates annually, the job market is growing at an even faster rate. This results in a widening gap between supply and demand, leading to a heavy reliance on immigrant STEM talent. This critical gap is filled by India and China that have the highest number of students studying in the United States. In the past ten years, the number of Indian students in the US increased from 11.8% to 22%. From 2022 to 2023, there were a total of 268,923 Indian students enrolled in US institutions.

Here is a breakdown of the number of Indian students in the US from 2012 to 2023:

Immigrant STEM talent with specialised skills boost US innovation and economic growth, filling a niche that the USA may not always fulfil. Here is why:

  • Supply and Demand: The US STEM job market is growing rapidly this creates a 'supply and demand gap' where there are more STEM jobs available than there are qualified US graduates to fill them.
  • Global Talent Pool: The US immigration system has historically attracted a global pool of talented individuals in STEM fields, perfectly positioned to fill this gap.
  • Innovation Boost: The immigrant talent brings the best knowledge and diverse perspectives, further fueling American innovation and economy.
  • Specialized Skills: The US education system may not always be perfectly tailored to the ever-evolving job market. Immigrant talent with specialized skills can fill this niche.

Furthermore, the students contribute an estimated $41 billion annually to the U.S. economy. Their presence not only supports educational institutions but also underscores the global reputation and prestige of American universities in the areas of teaching and research.

The table summarises data on the proportion of foreign-born employees in the US workforce categorised by highest degree level and occupation group in 2021. For instance, in all science and engineering (S&E) fields, 18.7% of employees holding a bachelor's degree are foreign-born. This percentage increases substantially for those with a master's degree (37.2%) and a doctorate (42.8%).

The pattern persists in most other occupational categories. In computer and mathematical professions, 22.3% of individuals with a bachelor's degree are foreign-born, contrasted with 46.8% of master's degree holders and 57.6% of doctorate holders. The data suggests immigrant talent plays a vital role in the US science and technology workforce, particularly at higher educational levels.

Furthermore, statistics unveiled the significant impact of foreign-born individuals in STEM-related fields.  Their substantial contributions are evidenced by generating over 30% of US patents and being awarded an impressive 33% of American Nobel Prizes, highlighting the remarkable achievements of immigrants in these fields. Additionally, various STEM disciplines offer exciting career opportunities, coupled with attractive salary ranges, making them the best career choices for individuals seeking professional growth and financial stability in the USA. 

This is further underscored by the strength of the U.S. labour market. According to the U.S. Bank, the market's strength continues to exceed expectations. In March alone, a whopping 303,000 new jobs were added, outpacing the  growth reported in January and February. 

The unemployment rate also remains below 4%, while wage gains are still above average. This combination of factors creates a highly favourable job market for STEM professionals. 

1. Science & Engineering (S&E) Occupations (Salary Range: $90,000 - $120,000):

  • Software Engineering: Software engineers design, develop, and test software applications for web, mobile, and enterprise systems. They play a crucial role in building the software that powers our world.
  • Software Development: Software developers translate software engineers' designs into functional code, ensuring applications run smoothly. They play a crucial role in the development of software products.
  • Full-Stack Developer: Full-stack developers possess a versatile skill set, handling both front-end and back-end development to deliver comprehensive solutions.
  • Business Systems Analyst: Business systems analysts transform business needs into effective technological solutions by analyzing processes, recommending improvements, and providing guidance on appropriate software.
  • Scrum Master: Scrum masters guide software development teams through the Scrum methodology, promoting collaboration and ensuring projects stay on track.
  • Product Manager: Product managers lead the product development process, ensuring products meet user needs and deliver business value. They oversee the product lifecycle from ideation to launch and beyond.

2. Biological, Agricultural & Life Sciences (Salary Range: $80,000 - $120,000):

  • Health Informatics: Health Informatics plays a vital role in managing healthcare data, guaranteeing its accuracy, security, and accessibility. This data-driven approach enhances patient care, facilitates research, and aids in the overall transformation of healthcare.
  • Healthcare Administration: Healthcare administrators oversee the day-to-day operations of healthcare facilities, ensuring smooth functioning and quality care. They collaborate with healthcare professionals, manage budgets, and coordinate patient care.
  • Clinical SAS Engineer:Clinical SAS engineers play a crucial role in analysing clinical trial data using SAS software, ensuring the safety and efficacy of new treatments.

3. Computer & Mathematical Scientists (Salary Range: $100,000 - $150,000):

  • Data Scientist: A data scientist is responsible for extracting knowledge and insights from large datasets, helping businesses make data-driven decisions and uncover the hidden gems in data.
  • Data Engineer: Data engineers build and maintain the infrastructure that stores and processes large volumes of data. They design, implement, and manage data pipelines and data warehouses.
  • Data Analyst: Data analysts interpret raw data, convert it into visualizations, and assist businesses in understanding their data to make informed decisions.
  • Structural Engineer Programmer: Structural engineer programmers are responsible for developing software tools used to analyze and design buildings, bridges, and other structures. They are the coding backbone of infrastructure.
  • Cloud Engineer: Cloud engineers are responsible for designing, building, and managing cloud-based systems and applications. They ensure scalability, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness in cloud environments.

4. Civil, Mechanical & Electrical Engineers (Salary Range: $100,000 - $150,000):

  • Structural Engineer: Structural engineers are responsible for designing and analyzing the structural integrity of buildings, bridges, and other structures to ensure their stability and safety.
  • Geotechnical Engineer: Geotechnical engineers analyze soil and rock conditions to design foundations and ensure safe construction practices. They play a crucial role in ensuring the stability and integrity of structures.
  • Mechanical Engineer: Mechanical engineers create and improve mechanical systems by applying the principles of engineering, physics, and materials science. They develop and test prototypes, analyze data, and make recommendations for improvements.
  • Physical Design Engineer: Physical design engineers are responsible for creating the physical layout of integrated circuits, ensuring they function correctly and perform as intended. They design the placement and routing of components on the chip to optimize performance and minimize space.
  • Design Verification Engineer: Design Verification Engineers are responsible for verifying the functionality and performance of integrated circuits by conducting simulation and testing to ensure that the design meets the specifications.
  • Applications Engineer: Applications engineers serve as a bridge between technology and its practical application. They offer technical assistance to customers, ensuring that complex technology is effectively utilized.

The US STEM offers many opportunities for aspiring Indian students but choosing the right universities and programs can feel like being caught in an endless loop of finding the right university and course. We at Sirian Overseas help your US education journey by simplifying the search process with our best AI Course Finder that matches your academic background, career goals, and location preferences with ideal universities and programs. 

Our team of expert advisors also offers personalised guidance to help you understand program details, application criteria, and even conduct mock F1 student visa interviews to prepare you for the visa process. This support can greatly benefit you in overcoming visa hurdles and successfully pursuing educational goals in the USA.

In conclusion, the US welcomes talented STEM immigrants which undeniably benefits tech innovation and the economy. Indian youth, with their strong educational foundation, technical skills, and entrepreneurial spirit, are perfectly positioned to capitalise on this opportunity. They have the potential to drive innovation and economic growth in the US, while also contributing to global advancements in technology and prosperity.

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